Google tosses meritless DMCA takedown request and restores my Downloader app in the Google Play Store

My Downloader app is once again available in the Google Play Store after being suspended earlier this week due to a frivolous DMCA takedown request submitted by MarkScan in India which represents Warner Bros. Discovery. It appears as though, after another review, Google has come to its senses by recognizing that the DMCA takedown request it received against my app was senseless.

When my Downloader app was suspended in May of this year due to its first meritless DMCA takedown request, I immediately filed a counter notice with Google, which declared that my app does not infringe on any copyrighted content. After five days, Google forwarded my notice to the complainant, as it’s legally obligated to do, and a ten business day countdown began for the complainant to decide to take legal action against me. After that timeframe passed, and a total of twenty days of my app being unavailable in the Google Play Store, the app was restored by Google.

I fully expected the process to play out the exact same way this time. I immediately submitted a counter notice Monday morning to Google when I learned my app had been suspended again due to a new DMCA takedown request. Thankfully, after about a day and a half had passed, it appears as though Google intervened and tossed out the meritless DMCA takedown request. The email I received from Google stated “We’ve taken another look at your request and have reinstated the following URLs,” referring to my Downloader app’s Google Play Store URL. After a necessary re-review of my app by the Google Play Store app submission team, my Downloader app was restored to the Google Play Store last night, having only been unavailable for two days.

I have no way of knowing for sure, but my best guess as to why Google intervened this time and not the first time is the complete lack of information in the new DMCA takedown request. While, as absurd and incorrect of a claim as it was, the first DMCA takedown request at least provided specifics as to why it believed my app infringed on its copyright. I presume this took control out of Google’s hands and put it into the DMCA process laid out by federal law. The new DMCA request provided no details as to how my app was infringing on copyrighted content, which, I believe, allowed Google to invalidate the takedown request.

Of course, I wish Google bothered to toss out the meritless DMCA takedown request when it was first submitted, as opposed to after taking “another look,” but I understand that Google is probably flooded with invalid takedown requests because the DMCA is flawed. I’m just glad Google stepped in when it did and I didn’t have to go through the entire DMCA counter notice process. The real blame for all of this goes to Warner Bros. Discovery and other corporations for funding companies like MarkScan which has issued DMCA takedowns in the tens of millions.

As an independent developer with so much on the line, it’s gutwrenching to wake up and learn that years of work and one’s livelihood have potentially been wiped away with a few keystrokes and a form submission by someone across the globe who knows nothing about my app. Thank you to everyone who brought attention to my cause through tweets, emails, and articles, especially Andy Maxwell at TorrentFreak, Jon Brodkin at ArsTechnica, Troy at TROYPOINT, and Roger Cheng and Luke Bouma at CordCuttersNews for the great articles they wrote (again) about my app’s situation. I’m certain Google wouldn’t have taken another look at my appeal without all of your help and thank you for the flood of donations that have come in during this ordeal to help support me and my family.

21 comments
  1. Manabi says:

    My guess is the real difference this time is due to the bad publicity caused by the articles in the tech press. The take down requirement is misunderstood by a lot of people. A hosting provider is required to take down the URL(s) in a DMCA notice if they want to maintain immunity from being sued for the acts of copyright infringement in that notice. They can always opt to ignore the DMCA notice if they want to. Google does this a lot with search engine URL removal DMCA notices. If they feel a DMCA notice is invalid they don’t remove the URLS, feeling the chances of being sued are slim and a lawsuit being successful are zero. Ignoring one DMCA request doesn’t remove the immunity for any other DMCA notices that are processed and taken down. I’m not aware of Google being sued over any of those ignored DMCA notices, even though they’re in the millions.

    This one being so defective didn’t hurt, but they could have done the same with the previous one as well. They just didn’t feel embarrassed enough to do so.

    • I agree. There was actually a lot more coverage from tech sites the first time my app was suspended, but maybe the embarrassment of it happening a second time to the same app was the contributing factor this time that made them risk the liability of ignoring the DMCA takedown request. That and the much weaker DMCA takedown claims are probably why it went more smoothly this time.

      I can only hope that my app has now been flagged internally which makes Google look more closely at all future DMCA takedown requests before suspending the app.

      • Fifth313ment says:

        Hey brother how can I throw you a 5 or 10 for a beer? I’ve used your Downloader app for years. I wish everyone would throw you, at minimum, a dollar or two so you could make apps only and find ways around stuff. Also what do you think about Amazon moving away from Android? If they do I’m out as that’s what I mainly use it for. I’ve also heard that they may only do it for IoT devices and not the sticks and TVs but I bet they don’t like us going around them anyway. Thank you brother.

        • I appreciate you wanting to help out. If you’d like to support what I do, you can donate through the buttons in the Downloader app or through PayPal here.

          As for Amazon moving away from Android, I think it’s a big mistake. We’ll see if it actually happens though.

  2. Bob Frano says:

    Good News Elias!

  3. Ispikdatruth says:

    After so much google ass-kissing in the past days, google had to restore your app LOL

  4. Bob says:

    Maybe we need to change the app name from “Downloader” – it seems to trigger the anti-piracy companies. They must be scraping app names, looking for anything they deem suspicious. What do they have to loose my making a DCMA take down request. Nothing. They get paid for each successful take down. Elias is right, the system is broken. We need a law for the developer to recover loss on a frivolous claim from the original claimant.

  5. Bencakes says:

    Why an I seeing this is the Google store…

    “This app is not available for any of your devices”

    I have 2 units… Android 12 and Android 14.

    Are you using a current Google API?

  6. bastard says:

    This is after 2 weeks before them releasing publicity for suing DMCA abusers for “weaponizing” it to attack people, much like yourself. Way to represent, google.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2023/11/google-sues-people-who-weaponized-dmca-to-remove-rivals-search-results/

  7. Mr Spoon says:

    Do you have a time frame for the Fire Tv update?

  8. Nate says:

    I’m happy that common sense prevailed once again, but I cannot help but share in the frustration that these DMCA claims are even allowed to be pushed through to begin with. Google really needs to revamp this process so as not to automatically take down an accused app but have at least some buffer for arbitration before an app is suspended. I fully understand the need to get apps removed that are legitimately facilitating copyright infringement, but as you noted Elias, this process harms small, independent developers who often rely upon income from these apps to make a living. But hey, taking this from a glass half full perspective, wear this as a badge of honor that your app is so popular and so useful, it has garnered the attention of all the big whigs ;)

  9. Jason says:

    I wish their policy leave in the playstore until proven to be a problem. Innocent until proven guilty etc

  10. Earl says:

    I looked for it in the playstore and it still cannot found.I run Android 13 would that be the issue?

  11. Nick says:

    hi first time user how can i get downloader on my pc using windows 11

  12. Jeffrey Heller says:

    The complexities of the cyber product world certainly bewilder me. I appreciate your noting that the dealings with it by Google et al – while disruptive and unfair to all – are not by their doing – and probably something they would like to not be burdened with. I have used your app – it is splendid – and have no question that there is no infringement.

    However the business and legal world – and language they speak I am familiar with. Especially when a company is acting in the extreme as this one is – and burdening the system for all – and realistically has little interest if any in any infringement. Seemingly it is doing it as an harrassment in good part to effect an anti-trade form of monopolistic power benefitting its customers.

    Serious consideration should be taken to filing (several) lawsuits across these many improprieties and seek compensation for damages they have caused. Base in part on the amounts they were paid/benefitted from filing frivolous and detrimental actions even more than on the direct loss of your income. Those losses are a burden to the society. That this may involve their sponsors and even give grounds to name them too – only acts to enlarge the pot to draw from (agreeably to the dense team too). I should think that you know of some other developers who have felt the sting of MarkScan – and that DMCA filings are likely public record or available through FOIA that support i beintg made into a class action status (all legal vultures just salivated) can be made. I mean something like finding X% of all DMCA filings for infringement are made by them and that some tiny percent are found meaningful to have had action taken goes a long way to move the filings to a different legal arena. Away from the one that profits from them – and supports an “abuse of system” culpability (putting them in a much worse position than it seems they like to put others…). Especially true if they need to defend a class action request for which the entire costs are on them pretty much from the get go……

  13. Anthony Rossetti says:

    Don’t feel too bad Elias
    They will probably try again next week

  14. Crystal says:

    I can’t find your app in Google Play, please advise urgently!!!

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